The Get Me to the Shops bus service is an initiative of Avenel Active and partly funded through the Community Activation and Social Isolation Initiative (CASI). A subsidy from Seymour Coaches has helped keep the cost minimal for passengers who pay $5 for the return service.
Strathbogie Shire Mayor Cr Chris Raeburn praised Avenel Active’s initiative to provide an easy, and social way for residents to do their shopping.
“There is no supermarket in Avenel, so it’s a great initiative to support people who need help with their shopping or a social outing,” Cr Raeburn said.
“Council loves supporting community projects that create such huge benefits.”
The weekly service operates on Thursday mornings, picking up passengers from their homes and driving to Avenel’s nearest supermarket in Seymour for grocery shopping between 10am to 11am.
Get Me to the Shops coordinator Jim Billings said while current passengers were aged from their 50s to 90s, the service was open to people of all ages who needed transport assistance.
Mr Billings said the service was predominantly used for grocery shopping needs, but some passengers used it to attend medical appointments, a coffee outing, or to go swimming.
“Passengers love the trip; they enjoy the companionship and the convenience,” Mr Billings said.
“It gives me a lot of pleasure doing these trips.”
Volunteers can help passengers on and off the bus and carry groceries to their door when they are transported home before noon.
“Sometimes they even bring the bins in when we drop-off passengers at home,” Mr Billings said.
“I have been delighted and overwhelmed by the support of our volunteers.”
Avenel resident Ian Kibble, 79, said the bus trips provided him a social outing while also making it easier to manage a grocery shopping excursion.
“I am still able to drive but this saves me driving and parking. It gets me out of the house, and I meet people on the bus,” Mr Kibble said.
“I’ve been here 79 years and I’ve met people I didn’t know who have lived here 20 years.
“I hope they keep this service going because some people may not be able to drive, or don’t have a car, and this is a great help.”